Collapse of Society During a Pandemic in Station Eleven

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During the outbreak of the flu in the novel Station Eleven, society collapses. Though ninety percent of the population is killed by influenza, there are a few survivors. Each of them with their own story. These people have to change and adapt to the new ways of the world. Throughout the novel the characters give us an insight into what things used to be like before the flu caused such devastation. We can clearly tell there are many differences before the influenza outbreak, and after.

One example of a difference between life before and after the flu outbreak is technology. Before the outbreak technology was everywhere. It was booming. It came off as if people were so involved with technology that they were cut off from the world and oblivious to what was going on around them. However, with so much technology they had knowledge. They knew what was going on around them and everywhere in the world. In life after the flu outbreak, there is no technology. They are literally cut off from everything. They don’t know what is happening 30 minutes away in the next town, much less the rest of the world. For example, “No more flight. No more towns glimpsed from the sky through airplane windows, points of glimmering light; no more looking down from thirty-thousand feet and imaging the lives lit up by those lights at that moment.” (Mandel) That knowledge is completely taken away from them. They are actually oblivious to what is going on around them. The novel shows how hard it is for people who remember life before the flu to adjust to their new life. However, it also shows that there are people who were born after the flu outbreak and have no idea the world was ever any different.

There are some things that don’t change and survive the flu outbreak. Art is one of them. Art does not rely on technology or a modern world. Art helps people understand and connect to a world that once was. Art helps the characters connect with each other and also in some ways with themselves. This makes them feel like they have a purpose. Even after all the hardships art sill makes them feel like they have a purpose. For example, “What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.” (Mandel) It has a way of connecting humans to the history of the world.

After the flu outbreak they have also lost medicine. A disease that easily could have been cured before, in the new world is life threatening. Getting food is now difficult. Things that were so simple before are now difficult and troubling. Finding shelter is not easy after the outbreak. They are faced with struggles they never thought they would encounter. The novel is trying to show that we take civilization for granted. Things that are so easy for us to get and have we often forget they are privileges and we are lucky to be living such simple and easy lives. For example, “I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.” (Mandel) The survivors of the flu look at the time before as paradise in a way. They realize how much they took for granted.

In conclusion there are a lot of differences in the world before the flu outbreak and after. The novel was portraying how we take for granted civilization. The characters are hit with the realization that they took for granted so many simple things. As they are trying to survive in such a cruel and harsh world they remember their past lives that seem like paradise now.

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Collapse of Society During a Pandemic in Station Eleven. (2020, October 20). WritingBros. Retrieved November 27, 2022, from
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